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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Clinical and Experimental Emergency Medicine, Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2019, Pages 106-112.

The published version is available at Copyright © White et al.


OBJECTIVE: Cardiogenic syncope can present as a seizure. The distinction between seizure disorder and cardiogenic syncope can only be made if one considers the diagnosis. Our main objective was to identify whether patients presenting with a chief complaint (reason for visit) as seizure or syncope received an electrocardiogram in the emergency department across all age groups.

METHODS: We conducted a secondary analysis of data collected in the 2010 to 2014 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey comparing patients presenting with a chief complaint of syncope versus seizure to determine likelihood of getting an evaluation for possible life threatening cardiovascular disease. The primary endpoint was receiving an electrocardiogram in the emergency department; secondary endpoint was receiving cardiac biomarkers.

RESULTS: There was a total of 144,094 patient encounters. Of these visits, 1,553 had syncope and 1,470 had seizure (60.3% vs. 44.2% female, 19.9% vs. 29.0% non-white). After adjusting for age, sex, mode of arrival and insurance, patients with syncope were more likely to receive an electrocardiogram compared to patients with seizure (odds ratio, 10.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 8.52 to 13.84). This was true across all age groups (0 to 18 years, 56% vs. 7.5%; 18 to 44 years, 60% vs. 27%; 45 to 64 years, 82% vs. 41%; ≥65 years, 85% vs. 68%; P<0.01 for all). Car- diac biomarkers were also obtained more frequently in adult patients with syncope patients (18 to 44 years, 17.5% vs. 10.5%; 45 to 64 years, 33.8% vs. 21.4%; ≥65 years, 47.1% vs. 32.3%; P<0.01 for all).

CONCLUSION: Patients evaluated in the emergency department for syncope received an electrocar- diogram and cardiac biomarkers more frequently than those that had seizure.

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